St. Olaf College Libraries

Rolvaag Library: Frequently Asked Questions about the Building

Why is it so cold in the library?
We've become aware that many students are uncomfortably cold in the library, particularly during the evening hours. We are working with the campus Facilities office, who has centralized control over our heat settings, to verify that they know when the library is open and must be heated. We'll also begin recording temperatures throughout the building during select times of the day. This will help us determine if there are certain floors/wings that are particularly inhospitable. In the meantime, please let us know if you're aware of a specific location that is notably chilly, and we'll be sure to report the problem to Facilities.
What is that clanking noise in the Reference Room?
We've been aware of this noise for a long, long time, and we sympathize! Alas, we've been told that the noisy radiators can't be silenced without drastic measures of ripping out walls in the reference room. We hope that this annoying problem will be fixed when we undergo a vast renovation of Rolvaag, hopefully in the near future.
It's noisy in the study area around the Writing Center and Reference Desk. Can anything be done?
As a temporary measure, writing tutors and librarians moved furniture around at the beginning of J-Term to alleviate the noise concerns. We also added a screen to separate writing tutors' stations from the reading room. We'll see if this temporary fix will do the trick. Eventually, we'd like to offer writing and research help in a different, thoughtfully designed location in Rolvaag.
Where are all the white boards?
You're absolutely right, we need more white boards dispersed throughout Rolvaag, and we're working on procuring some.
What's up with the noisy lighting?
We've heard some of you are bothered by noisy lights. We'd like to know more specifics about which fixtures around the building are noisy or flickering. When you encounter a noisy light, please record what floor of the building you are on, and if you are in a room, the room number. If you are in the library in general, and in the stacks, give us the nearest call number of a book near the buzzing light.
Why are some areas of the building so poorly lit?
We're aware that some parts of the library are too dark, particularly the stacks in the older wings: Felland wing and Rolvaag wing. We've been told that some lights were disconnected as long ago as the 1970s, when there was a conscious decision to conserve energy within the building. This issue was recently raised with Facilities, and they have agreed to rewire those long-ago disconnected lights. Hopefully, the stacks will be brighter by the end of summer 2012!
What happened to the tapestry that used to hang in Rolvaag Library's lobby?
The tapestry, belonging to the college's Tetlie Collection, was brought into Rolvaag about 8 years ago because we had the best place for displaying it. Visitors to the library frequently marvel at its beauty and fine craftmanship. We recognized, however, that it did leave Ole's Cave extremely dark and gloomy. While we love the tapestry, we decided to remove it so that we can make better use of Ole's Cave. The tapestry has been returned to the Flaten Art Museum for safe keeping. We hope that another location on campus might be identified as a good spot to display this unique treasure.
I find it hard to locate a quiet spot to study in the library.
We've heard from students expressing some frustration about the noise level in "Super-Quiet Study Zones". We sense that this becomes an even greater issue at the end of each semester when students are under more pressure. There are several ways we hope to alleviate this problem:
  • While we have designated certain floors as "Super-Quiet Study Zones," we believe that these areas are not as well marked as they could be. Currently, these zones are on Levels 2, 3 1/2, and 5. We intend to create more signage to make such designations clear to all users.
  • Arrangement of Super-Quiet Study Zones: We intend to re-designate these zones just before the start of the Fall 2012 semester. In the new arrangement, the most social space will continue to be Level 3 (with the exception of the Reference Reading Room). Level 3 will continue to be the epicenter of social activity and noise, and the immediately-surrounding floors will be designated as Semi-Quiet Study Zones, ones where quiet conversation is acceptable (Levels 2, 3 1/2, and 4). The floors furthest from the main floor, Levels 1 and 5, will be the Super-Quiet Study Zones, where students seeking silence should be able the find the environment they need.
  • We believe that the best way to address noise concerns is to respectfully ask others to lower their voices, but we acknowledge that this is not always possible or easy to do. If any student encounters a persistent problem with the noise level, we encourage him/her to come talk with the staff at either the Reference or Circulation Desks.
Why are there so few outlets in the library? I can never find a place to plug in my laptop.
Many have brought up the scarcity of outlets in the library. And it's true, much of the building was constructed long before the need for every student to have easy access to power. But rest assured, as we move forward in our library space planning, outlets will be a top priority.
I want more group study spaces!/I want more individual study spaces!
On the subject of study spaces, we've noted a variety of favorites– some like large, open tables while other prefer smaller, secluded study carrels. As we plan out library spaces for the future, we'll make sure to factor in both!
What's going on the main floor where Government Documents used to be?
Since the end of the fall semester, you may have noticed that the Government Documents collection has moved. Gov Docs are now located on Level 1. This was part of our decision to move all "Special Collections" to a common floor. You'll also find our Rare Books and Preservation Department on Level 1 and, during the summer of 2012, we'll move all of our periodicals down to Level 1 as well. We are currently working on a plan to repurpose all of Level 3 and, as part of that plan, the area formerly occupied by Gov Docs will be transformed into an attractive student-use space. Unfortunately, this area looks a little rough at present, but we are making arrangements to fill in the carpet where the cement floor is currently exposed and hope to obtain more comfortable furniture to fill the area.
Why isn't Rolvaag open on Sunday mornings?
We've heard many requests that we open earlier on Sundays. The College administration has decided that the library should remain closed on Sunday mornings out of respect to our tradition as a college of the church.
There seem to be many unused faculty offices on the 5th floor. Why can't we use them for group study rooms?
The need for more study rooms will be a significant consideration during any renovation of Rolvaag Library. It will also be a challenge, given the architectural limitations of the facility. We are committed to adding and/or improving group study rooms whenever possible. As a related issue, some students have noted that some faculty carrels appear to sit unused. Control of faculty carrels lies with the college administration, not the library. Carrels are needed by faculty who are displaced from their own offices while on sabbatical, and by visiting scholars, and as such, their use obviously fluctuates. We do agree with students that unused carrels should be made available for student use at least during the time that they are available, and we will work with the college administration towards that goal.